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Mingo Co., WV, judge to plead guilty, prosecutors to dismiss previous federal charge

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Federal prosecutors said they will dismiss the original charges filed Aug. 15 against former Judge Michael Thornsbury once he pleads guilty to information filed last week, according to a motion filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The motion filed Sept. 24 asks to move forward in the Thornsbury case involving the Woodruffs, a couple allegedly scorned by Thornsbury.

In August, the former Mingo County Circuit judge was accused of trying to frame his ex-lover's husband in several schemes. Kim Woodruff is Thornsbury's former secretary. According to a federal indictment, Thornsbury and Woodruff started an affair in 2008. When Woodruff ended the relationship, Thornsbury reportedly targeted Woodruff's husband, Robert.

Prosecutors filed an information Thursday, Sept. 19, claiming that Thornsbury conspired with other Mingo officials, including the late Sheriff Eugene Crum, to deprive another man of his constitutional rights.

Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty to the information filed last week.

In exchange for pleading guilty to this latest information, prosecutors will drop charges against Thornsbury in the initial indictment filed in August.

Michael Callaghan, who represents the Woodruffs, said he is planning to mediate a separate civil suit involving the couple.

Callaghan previously notified the Supreme Court that he intended to file a lawsuit against several agencies in connection with Thornsbury's reported actions.

"I'd like to see this resolved," said Callaghan, who hopes to reach a settlement by October. "Nothing good comes from civil case being dragged out over period of time.

Callaghan said his clients are happy Thornsbury will plead guilty in general, even if prosecutors dismiss the charges involving the love triangle.

"It takes some pressure off everyone in the case," said Callaghan, who worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of West Virginia between 1992 and 2001.

"They didn't want to be put in the spotlight. They were married and enjoying life and all of a sudden, their life got turned upside down."

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston scheduled Thornsbury's guilty plea hearing for October 2 at 1:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Charleston.